INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis started and ended it’s day with a person getting hit and killed by a car in the city on Monday.
23-year-old Callie Nicholson died Monday morning at the intersection of Raymond St. and Churchman Ave. Later the day, 63-year-old Ronald Wright was hit near 34th St. and Summerfield Dr. on the west side of Indianapolis.
Neighbors around 34th St. and Summerfield Dr. said the area was usually quiet when it comes to traffic crashes.
”Cars aren’t flying by, you’ve got the occasional guy that’s speeding but I’d say the bigger problem, that I personally see, is there’s no easy way to get across the street,” said Dylan Woody. Woody lives right down Summerfield Dr. from where the crash happened Monday evening.
There is a sidewalk on the north side of 34th St. but not one of the south side of the road. Going either direction you won’t see a crosswalk or light to cross at for several blocks.
”I just find it easier just to book across,” said Woody. “With the apartment over there, the sidewalk being on one side, the apartments being on the other, I’m guessing kind of a lot of people do the same.”
With the fatal crashes Monday, 38 pedestrians have now been killed in crashes this year in the Circle City.
”It’s gut-wrenching and its endemic across the United States,” said Damon Richards. Richards is a the Executive Director of Bike Indianapolis and a member of the Indianapolis Fatal Crash Review Board.
The board was approved by the City-County Council in June as part of the revised Complete Street ordinance. The group looks over every fatal crashes to check if there are any infrastructure changes that could be made to make the area safer.
The board has a representative from the Indianapolis Dept. of Public Works, IMPD, the Department of Metropolitan Development and two people from the community appointed by the City-County Council. DPW handles infrastructure, DMD handles planning and IMPD handles enforcement.
Richards is one of those community members. He said the board has had two meetings so far as it works to get off the ground. They’ll begin having meetings every other month and reviewing the fatal crashes that have happened since then.
”We look at should there be more lighting, should there be a stoplight or a crosswalk or traffic calming,” Richards said. “Just any kind of things that, as a part of the road design, could have made the problem less.”
With different viewpoints on the team, Richards said they’re able to figure out feasible solutions that will make areas where fatal crashes have happened safer. Richards said DPW can help show safety advocates like himself what works where based on traffic engineering.
”There are folks like me who can ask those questions, and we can learn,” Richards said.
Recommendations to improve safety are then sent to DPW, IMPD and DMD. DPW then looks to see if it can be included.
Ben Easley with DPW said they’re excited to work with this new board on safety.
”We’ll be looking for these kind of recommendations to include in our program,” Easley said.
However, Richards said in most cases there are not changes that can be made because the crash is on the driver.
”The vast majority of the crashes are caused by people who are doing things that are illegal, speeding, driving under the influence, running red lights,” Richards said. “So there is not a lot where there is clearly some structural change that would have made a difference in this crash.”
Richards and Easley said the Fatal Crash Review Board is beginning the process of making recommendations to make some areas safer, like with a protected left turn light or a crosswalk.
”They have looked at several crashes and at least a few of them have included recommendations that they will now vote to formalize,” Easley said.
Woody said a crosswalk wouldn’t hurt near the 34th St and Summerfield Dr. intersection.
”Especially those ones that are flashing saying, ‘Hey, someone’s crossing out here,’ those really grab your attention,” Woody said. “I think that would possibly prevent something like this.”
Richards said these fatal crashes should serve as a tragic reminder to every driver and pedestrian to be safe out on the roads.
”Everybody slow down, everybody follow the rules,” Richards said. “The vast majority of the crashes we have reviewed have involved motorists making mistakes. When a motorist makes a mistake and a pedestrian or bicyclist is involved they pay the price.”
Richards said the Fatal Crash Review Board will look into the deadly pedestrian crashes from Monday as its next meeting, as long as the IMPD investigations into what happened are finished up.